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Old 07-21-2020, 07:56 AM   #11
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

I use GURPS more than anything else, but I've used two other generic games more than once. Big Eyes Small Mouth (I prefer the second edition) is good for games where visual impressions and characterization are more important than precise physical measurements (I've used it for campaigns set in Middle-Earth, on Barrayar, and in an anime-influenced fantasy setting); FUDGE (the original version, not FATE, which I don't care for) is good for games where narrative causality is central (I've used it for a campaign set on the Discworld and for one inspired by Planetary and League of Extraordinary Gentlement). I recommend taking a look at both.

There are also more focused games that I've been happy with: Amber Diceless, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mage: The Ascension (2nd edition, not revised, or the recently released anniversary version), and RuneQuest (2nd edition, which I consider one of the great classic RPGs). They can be applied a bit more broadly than their core settings—I used Amber Diceless for a campaign set in E.R. Eddison's fantasy world Zimiamvia—but you have to make sure the campaign you want to run is one that fits their various emphases.
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Old 07-21-2020, 08:31 AM   #12
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
I am the oddity, I started with GURPS back in '88, added the old TSR Marvel Super Heroes in '90, added Werewolf in '93, and then Mage and Shadowrun in '95. I have only played D&D a handful of times and never liked it, I did like the Moongoose Conan RPG and loved Pathfinder 1e (and you can find indexed, legally, in the Archives of Nethys), so there is that. Other than that, Exalted, L5R, and a little bit of everything under the sun.
I'm sort of in the same boat. Started with Iron Crown's Cyberspace around 1990, then got GURPS not long after. Played Riddle of Steel, Big Eyes Small Mouth, and a handful of others. Then played D&D for the first time and found it to be amazingly dull.

Of the universal games I have any experience with, I'd put GURPS on one end of the crunch spectrum, FATE on the other end, and BESM/TriStat pretty much in the middle.
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Old 07-21-2020, 09:31 AM   #13
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

If you're interested in expanding your horizons to something you might not like, I suggest also looking at The Burning Wheel and any one of the Powered By the Apocalypse games (I like Dungeon World, but I hear it's not the best implementation of the system.) Burning Wheel is a fantasy game that's easily as crunchy as GURPS, but comes at it from some very different assumptions. It also has some pretty solid GMing advice baked into it. The writing style may be a bit of a "love it or a hate it," but I think it's worth picking up regardless. Notable bits are the lifepath system (not original to BW, but a good implementation of the idea), scripted combat, and very strong Player/GM role definition. Good for provoking ideas to improve your gaming, whether or not you agree with the author's stance.

Powered By The Apocalypse games are much less crunchy than GURPS, and again they're more GM advice if you don't actually want to play their system. I got quite a lot of use out of the ideas of Moves, and the way each "class" is presented as a little playbook of concept, moves, and so on informed how I present GURPS templates to my players.

I also like Nobilis. It's amazing, if hard to describe. I hear that Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is also good. Both are by the same author, Jenna Moran, and are very different from GURPS.
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Old 07-21-2020, 09:34 AM   #14
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

I play a number of other systems besides GURPS. In terms of GURPS, whilst I did briefly own a copy of the first edition it was third edition that clicked for me, and I was happy to make the transition to fourth edition as well.

My group does play a lot of D&D, which means so do I even though it isn't really a game I enjoy in the longer term. To be fair, I think 5th edition is probably the most enjoyable iteration so far. We also play a fairly broad range of other systems from time to time.

I love flexible systems (hence my GURPS history) but I must admit that I am less bothered about having lots of detailed rules, these days. I also find GURPS 4th edition perhaps too based in 'real reality' for my current tastes, which tend to more pulp or action movie in tone. Because of this I have been playing a lot of Savage Worlds recently (specifically the new Adventure Edition commonly referenced as 'SWADE').

SWADE is a very capable rules-medium system with an action / pulp emphasis (though you can step that up or down somewhat with fairly simple optional rules). It reminds me of GURPS 3e in a good way; to my mind 3e was a more loose collection of rules and options, whilst 4th is a tightly engineered set of rules. That wiggle room in 3e or SWADE makes it easier to 'not sweat the little stuff' in my personal experience.

Savage Worlds in general is also very well supported. There are a whole bunch of third-party developers producing content for it, as well as high quality first-party material. They have a strong set of 'plot point campaigns' which are typically campaign backgrounds with an adventure series based there. This is more a skeleton of a campaign as opposed to a highly detailed adventure path, but it still gives you a whole lot of material to work with. I am running a Last Parsec campaign at the moment (sci-fi) and it is great fun.

In these troubled times it is also useful that Savage Worlds is supported by both Fantasy Grounds and Roll20 virtual table tops. We are using Fantasy Grounds Unity and it is a really good implementation.

The latest core book (Savage Worlds Adventure Edition) brings into the core a lot of material that was previously expansion in various campaign books. It make the game really usable just from the core book. I would heartily recommend it.
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Old 07-22-2020, 08:14 AM   #15
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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It may take some digging to find a copy, but there's the old Fuzion system that was partially based on Mekton Zeta and... BTRC? I think? It's interesting to take a look at.
Fuzion was Hero System and CP2020; there are significant differences between Interlock games' damage systems, and it's closer overall to that in CP2020 than in Mekton (any). And it was RTalsorian Games, not BTRC.

Speaking of BTRC, however...
CORPS - d10's only, reduced rolling, gridded combat. Still available, but no longer devloped.
EABA - d6's only, standard amounts of rolling, roll stat+skill dice, keep 3. Lots of "build your setting" (I was a playtester for EABA 1E - porting Traveller to EABA was a cinch... Dice codes run the same ranges as in D6 star wars, too...)

Things I've run recently I'd recommend:
Alien (Fria Ligan)- captures the setting beautifully.
Star Trek Adventures (with the caveat: Limit threat generation by players, especially munchkins)
FFG Star Wars
FFG's L5R 5E
MWP's (oop) Marvel Heroic RP, Firefly RPG
Sentinel Comics

2d20 system (Star Trek Adventures, Conan: Adventures in an Age undreamed of, John Carter of Mars, Mutant Chronicles 3e, Dune) appeals due to the constant ebb and flow of bad juju. It has a big flaw - threat/doom generation is in fact unlimited, while stored momentum is limited... so players can spend themselves into short term success and long term failure. the smaller flaw is no incentive to fess up to 20's on the dice (generating complications) so the ethically challenged create a problem with the intended playstyle. Other than those, it's a good game engine, adapted well.

FFG's Star Wars does nifty things with the custom dice. FFG's generic version, Genesys, makes few changes outside character gen. It fits the tone well. I've some major issues with the scale rules, but not big enough ones to prevent a recommend.

I love L5R overall, and L5R 5 really makes the dice matter... in ways similar to, but not the same as, Star Wars. It's a tight design, but with lots of variation even in starting characters. No campaigns of it I've been involved with made it past rank 4, tho'...

Alien: The Year Zero Engine is an award winner, and Alien shows why. In Cinematic mode, the tension is there. S*** is happeneing, NOW!!!
In campaign mode, there are aliens out there... and sooner or later you're going to run across them... assuming the rigors of spacers' lives don't drive you off the deep end first! The stress rules are a really powerful bit of feel for this one. Am about to start a Vaessen game.

Sentinel Comics - The is one of the best narrativist games out there. Technically, it's an outgrowth from the Apocalyse world approach (no difficulties, universal breakpoints in successes). But it's also just a touch gamist, and it plays well. Need 3 standard poly sets, tho'.

Cortex Plus - Firefly, Marvel Heroic... bad rolls get you metacurrency and plot complications together, so players prone to misreads tend to do so less.. Build a pool, roll it, keep 2 for success, and the number of sides on a third die is the damage. (In Firefly, you have to spend a "plot point" to not be taken out by a successful attack... )

There is a trend here. I long ago realized that GURPS' simulationism wasn't workign for me, especially not melee. As I aged, I've moved more and more towards games that mechanically direct the story more than resolve character actions, but I also know few can handle that full bore narrativist stuff.

If you want to try it, I recommend Blood & Honor, which is a samurai game, over Houses of the Blooded. Both are build pool, set some aside, roll remainder - highest roll picks success or failure, and gets to make a "Yes, and" or "Yes, but"; everyone else, in descending roll order, makes a "Yes, and" or "yes, but", spending two of the dice set aside unrolled. Once everyone who rolled high enough has done one, repeat for those with dice remaining in their set asides, until it's all spent.
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:18 AM   #16
Raekai
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

I wish I had started replying much sooner, but I got very side-tracked. Thank you to all of those who responded. I got a lot of great suggestions, a lot of great insight, and I learned what 'eclectic' actually means!

More and more, I think what's actually important for me (right now) is a system/setting that has lots of pre-written adventures (or, at the very least, a good amount of solid plot-hooks). I mentioned that before, but I'm feeling more and more like I would still be put off from a 'simple' system if I had to think really hard about the world and adventures. GURPS feels very front-loaded (especially with players who are averse to reading more than one book). Right now, I'm tired of trying to point to these advantages here, those guns there, that magic system yonder, etc. I'm honestly probably doing myself a disservice by not playing the Dungeon Fantasy RPG as-is because it's almost exactly what I'm asking for. Again, when I'm close to GURPS, I just want to tinker, which is my own... quirk.

I'm still not sure of what I want to do, but I feel much better about not feeling like I have to stick with the system(s) I already know and love. I've been the only one telling myself that I can't just run a four-session-long adventure with another system to try it out. I'm even more sure now that my players would very likely enjoy messing around like that too. It's funny because I don't have these hang-ups with video games—we switch between a handful of very different games when playing online together. I was overthinking things, which isn't a surprise for me.

I think I'll stick with GURPS for a little while longer as I just taught a new player how to play, and I would hate to flip their world upside-down right away. In addition to really considering the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, I saw a recommendation elsewhere for GURPS Discworld as a nice self-contained rule-set. Which is true! I bought my copy for fun, but I could use it to either run a Discworld-based game or remove the Discworld-isms for something else. The flexible magic is nice!

I hope others might find this thread interesting and full of great suggestions too!
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:57 AM   #17
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

I'll second BESM. It's a generic point build system similar to GURPS, but with a different flavor and a lot less complexity.

My third choice for generic "system" is/are the descendants of Chaosium's rule set (sometimes called "Basic Roleplaying" though in all honesty it varies enough from product to product it's a bit hard to call it a system exactly). It's Call of Cthulhu form seems to be pretty popular among GURPS players. I personally liked the Avalon Hill edition of Runequest, but not many people agree with me there.

After that, maybe Top Secret/SI? Another very GURPS-like skill and advantage, point build system.

I think the most fun I've ever had driven by the game engine was with early Pendragon - it's a quite simple rules set with a *very* narrow focus that it does very well. The personality rolls system that occasionally forced us tactical wargamers to do stuff that was completely out of character for us but very appropriate to our characters and the genre was great fun really, and helped a lot with getting us to comprehend the idea of "role playing". In a similar vein, Toon does its narrow niche really well. I have several fun memories of Crimefighters (a game from an early issue of the Dragon (#47)) too, but while that was good for a dozen sessions back ca 1980 it's not really a rules set by modern standards.

On the flipside Space 1889 has a great setting, but the rules system itself isn't very good. I feel similarly about AD&D's Forgotten Realms. A big plus side for these is there is a fair amount of already written adventure material available.
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:59 PM   #18
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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More and more, I think what's actually important for me (right now) is a system/setting that has lots of pre-written adventures (or, at the very least, a good amount of solid plot-hooks). I mentioned that before, but I'm feeling more and more like I would still be put off from a 'simple' system if I had to think really hard about the world and adventures.
My priorities are quite different from yours, which may influence how useful my advice is to you. On one hand, over the past quarter century, I've run one campaign and two sessions of another from a pre-written source; everything else has been stuff I made up. I hesitate to use published material because I like to tailor encounters to the characters and to specific actions of theirs in past sessions, and it's hard to do that with anything written by somebody else. On the other hand, I really like worldbuilding, to the point where one of my habitual jokes is that the best part of the campaign is over when the characters enter play . . .

Not to say that you have to approach things that way! But bear in mind that my recommendations are for games that suit my style and may or may not suit yours. FUDGE is a wonderful system, but you actually start out by designing the game mechanics to fit your campaign plans . . .
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:02 PM   #19
Raekai
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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My priorities are quite different from yours, which may influence how useful my advice is to you. On one hand, over the past quarter century, I've run one campaign and two sessions of another from a pre-written source; everything else has been stuff I made up. I hesitate to use published material because I like to tailor encounters to the characters and to specific actions of theirs in past sessions, and it's hard to do that with anything written by somebody else. On the other hand, I really like worldbuilding, to the point where one of my habitual jokes is that the best part of the campaign is over when the characters enter play . . .

Not to say that you have to approach things that way! But bear in mind that my recommendations are for games that suit my style and may or may not suit yours. FUDGE is a wonderful system, but you actually start out by designing the game mechanics to fit your campaign plans . . .
I appreciate the meta-advice! Usually, I too love worldbuilding (and especially coming up with new characters!). It just takes a lot out of me—especially in time. But none of us wanted a break in play, so it has been easier for me to rest on another's setting and story. I've been having fun creating the whipped cream and cherry on top of Deadlands adventures as well as putting my own touch on things. That's also why I love good adventure hooks so much—they leave a lot of space for me to play around (and "It's a Quest!" from Pyramid #3/104: Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game is pretty good... for dungeon fantasy, of course).

I hope to get over this slump and back into worldbuilding, but it's definitely been nice to have a 3rd party do the work.
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Old 07-22-2020, 05:37 PM   #20
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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More and more, I think what's actually important for me (right now) is a system/setting that has lots of pre-written adventures (or, at the very least, a good amount of solid plot-hooks).
That probably means you shouldn't be looking for a system at all; you should start by looking for a game whose setting seems interesting, then take a look at the system the game uses and see if it appalls you (it might; 'good at designing settings' and 'good at designing rules' are orthogonal traits at best). If it doesn't, use that system, as using the 'house' system often gets the feel of the setting best (not always; 'fails to emulate its own genre' is a legit rule system criticism). If it does, convert it to a system you like better (and be aware that doing so may significantly change the style of the game; you can convert Shadowrun to GURPS but characters that are nominally equivalent in SR are ridiculously different point value in GURPS).

I would generally discourage using GURPS for games that use powers, because powers in GURPS are priced to discourage people from taking them, whereas most settings that use powers envision most PCs having powers, meaning they should be priced to encourage powers; if you're going to convert a powers-heavy setting to a generic system, I'd use one tuned towards superheroes (includes BESM, Hero, Mutants and Masterminds). My current preference of those three would be M&M, though all of them have flaws.
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